Taxpayers say $560M may be missing from Cook County courts

Taxpayers in Cook County, Ill., filed a lawsuit demanding an audit to find hundreds of millions of dollars they say has gone missing from the court system since 2001.

By Gabrielle Levy

CHICAGO, Aug. 25 (UPI) -- Did hundreds of millions of dollars in fees collected by Cook County courts go missing?

Taxpayers in Cook County, Ill., the second largest county in the country, filed a class action suit Friday against the circuit court demanding an audit to find between $340 million and $560 million that may have fallen through the cracks since 2001.


Mark Schacht, M.D., on behalf of Cook County taxpayers, sued county board president Toni Preckwinkle, 17 Cook County commissioners, and the Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown.

The complaint says the clerk's office collects $200 million each year in fees from cases in the circuit court, but 15 to 23 percent of that money goes unaccounted in the clerk's official financial reports.

"The financial reports presented... do not present audits completed in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards and generally accepted auditing standards," the complaint reads. "Instead, the financial reports... reveal a glaring failure to properly account for hundreds of millions of dollars of court funds collected from litigants."

"Plaintiffs' estimate of the magnitude of the funds not reported by the Clerk and the County ranges from $340,716,782 to $563,268,327 from 2001 through 2012," the filing says.


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